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Armies of Fantasy Warriors

Armies of Fantasy Warriors

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Project Blog by peacefulwarrior Cult of Games Member

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About the Project

In 1991 I saw an ad for Fantasy Warriors in the swedish Rpg-magazine Sinkadus. I knew I couldn't afford the game. Grenadier and swedish Äventyrsspel (Adventure Games) was releasing a swedish version of the game, the year after its release in the UK. Recently I aquired Fantasy Warriors threw an auction site. Now the time has come to create at least two fantasy armies based on the old school Grenadier fantasy miniatures.The Orks and Dwarfs will form the core of the armies.

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A Proud Panda and the Dwarves

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Im a Proud Panda having recieved my first ever Golden Button! Although time has been short these last few weeks the project is still coming along along slowly. Having my project mentioned in the Backstage Weekender made me happy.

A Proud PandaA Proud Panda

The Dwarves are still on the workbench. So far their armour and the orange on the clothes under their armour is done. Right now Im working on the Army Painter Ultramarine blue which is going on the linning of the armour and on their hood. Probably have a few good hours left on these miniatures.

Dwarves WIP, almost halfway with the blueDwarves WIP, almost halfway with the blue

Batch painting and real life

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Real life has been busy the last couple of weeks. So I’ve decide to challenge myself with my largest batch painting ever. My vacation is coming up and I’m aiming to finish the Dwarves during it. The plan is to batch paint 32 Dwarves, 16 spearmen and 16 crossbow men.

Batch painting and real life

So far I’ve based and undercoated them and painted the faces, beards and started the armour. Hopefully I’ll get some more hobby time the next couple of days.

Batch painting 32 minis is challenging but so far it’s been okey.

Batch painting and real life

Dwarves with Double-handed Axes

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Finished! Finished!

The first Dwarven unit is finished. These are the first dwarves I’ve ever painted, as far as I can remember.

Next I’m on to the Dwarven Spearmen.

The Dwarves are still moving forward

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Real life has made itself present the last few weeks. Still managed to keep working on the Dwarves.

They are still getting the standard treatment of basecoat, wash and highlights.

Highlights, but not on all partsHighlights, but not on all parts

Although, this is suppose to be a spring cleaning I could not help myself. Went on to Evilbay. Found some of Grenadier’s Julie Guthrie’s Personalities. Did manage to find the White Witch. How could I not get her? Oh, and two other minis just had to come with her too.

The White Witch and friendsThe White Witch and friends

The Granite Warriors Guild on the March

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The Dwarves have taken front stage on the hobby table this week. This is the first time I’m painting a dwarf army. My plan is to use orange and light shades of blue as the army colors. Lets see how they turn out.

I’m closing in on having all the base colors done, following the same general process as the Orcs.

The Granite Warriors Guild on the March

How to Paint a Fantasy Warriors Orc

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This tutorial shows the colors and procedure I’ve used for painting my Orcs. When batch painting 8 orcs were mounted on 2 wooden sticks. Each step was applied to all 16 orcs before moving on to the next step. Being mono-pose miniatures the procedure was pretty fast, even for a slow-painter like me. When reaching the second stick, eye to hand coordination felt comfortable. My speed of painting was increased incrementally from the first to sixteenth miniature. The Orc spearmen, swordsmen and bowmen were all done following the same procedure.

The colors used in this tutorial are from Army Painter (AP), Vallejo Model Color (VMC) and Vallejo Game Color (VGC)

 

Clean up flash and apply basing

The plastic orcs in Fantasy Warriors have a line of plastic flash running around the model where the two halves of the mold have met. It’s not any major issue, but you need to remove it. However, all Fantasy Warriors plastic miniatures have an injection point at the back of them that has to be removed. This is preferably done with a sharp scalpel or knife.

The next step is to apply basing. I use super glue and the type of sand used in small critters cages.

How to Paint a Fantasy Warriors Orc

Undercoat and Orc skin base color

The Orc was undercoated with AP Leather Brown spray.

Then a base coat of VMC Refractive Green was applied with an AP Regiment brush.

 

Other base color

The other areas of details are:

  • Arm cloth and pouch on the side in VMC Leather Brown using an AP Character brush
  • Loincloth in Army Painter Chaotic Red with an AP Regiment brush
  • Metal armband and belt buckle in VMC Copper with an AP Character brush
  • Belt, sword grip and right side shoulder armour  in VMCr Flat Brown with an AP Character brush
  • Sword blade and left side shoulder armour in VGC Gunmetal with and AP Character brush
  • Teeth in VGC Bonewhite with an AP Detail brush
  • Eyes in VMC Carmine Red with an AP Detail brush
  • Base in AP Fur Brown with an AP Monster Brush
How to Paint a Fantasy Warriors Orc

Wash and second layer Orc skin

The entire model was washed in Army Painter Strong Tone with an AP Monster brush, and then given a second Orc skin layer of Vallejo Model Color Refractive Green with an AP Character brush

How to Paint a Fantasy Warriors Orc

Highlights

The highlights were made with:

  • Skin in VMC Green Grey with an AP Detail brush
  • Arm cloth and pouch on the side in VMC Leather Brown with an AP Detail brush
  • Loincloth in VMC Carmine Red with an AP Character brush
  • Sword blade in AP Plate Mail Metal with an AP Character brush
  • Teeth in VGC Bonewhite with an AP Detail brush
  • Eyes in AP Lava Orange with an AP Detail brush
How to Paint a Fantasy Warriors Orc

Orc skin wash

Finally the Orc skin highlights were toned down with a layer of AP Green Wash with an AP Regiment brush.

How to Paint a Fantasy Warriors Orc

The Core of the Orc Horde Done

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The Core of the Orc Horde Done

A few highlights more

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A few painting steps leftA few painting steps left
Dwarves coming soonDwarves coming soon

So, I’ve started to clean up the Dwarves. The plastic injection point on the backs of the Fantasy Warriors orcs and dwarves are the only downside of the models. Not to much of a problem. A good scalpel solves it. Looking forward to starting with the dwarves!

Have you ever seen a newly washed Orc?

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Base coat and wash done on the Orc swordmen. Next step highlights. Really enjoying to paint these mono-pose miniatures.

Some newly washed orcsSome newly washed orcs

So, a Ral Partha Orc Hero snuck into the painting line up. Had started him a while back. Being the spring clean challenge, might as well have him join the Fantasy Warriors army. Got his horns done today.

Have you ever seen a newly washed Orc?

Fantasy Warriors - The Game, Part 2

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In 1996, when Grenadier Models closed down, Stratelibri the company’s italian distributor bought the U.S. molds and master sculpts. Fantasy Warriors was then re-released in a 2nd printing of the game with a new box that has a different box art, and the underline “3D Fantasy Wargame”. The 2nd printing was released by Stratelibri’s game arm Nemo Miniatures in at least an english and an italian language version. During the late 1990s Nemo Miniatures started to develop a setting called The World of Valdar, which came to a premature end when the owner of the parent company Stratelibri suddenly passed away. The 2nd printing of Fantasy Warriors would, so far, be the last printing of the game. Although the rules are still available in italian from Mirliton S.G. that bought the molds and italian rulebook in 2004.

The english version of the rules are available from EM4 miniatures, owned by Doug Cowie one of the game’s co-creators, as a free download. EM4 also has the one published (there is an unpublished one too) expansion for the game, the Fantasy Warriors Companion, also by Nick Lund. The Fantasy Warriors rulebook has army lists for Barbarians, Dwarves, Goblins, Men, Orcs, Wood Elves and Trolls and Ogres. Except for the Trolls and Ogres, the army lists contain different fantasy warrior troops, specialists, warchiefs and individuals that can be organised into proper fantasy armies. The Trolls and Ogres are separate unit entries and “are used by many armies”, without being limited to any specific type of fantasy army. The six fantasy armies are outlined according to the available range of Grenadier miniatures, which means that they have exotic units such as Dwarven Ursine cavalry, Hobgoblin infantry and Wood Elf Eagle Riders. The range of exotic units would be expanded as more Fantasy Warriors miniatures were released. The Fantasy Warriors Companion also includes army lists for Undead, Amazons, Mercenaries and High Elves. Furthermore, the Warrior Newsletter dedicated to Fantasy Warriors published army lists for Dark Elves and Ratmen. There is also a rules update, by the games author Nick Lund, with a Halfling army list. So all in all, Fantasy Warriors covers a wide range of different classical fantasy armies, that just like some of the interesting game mechanics have started to come back into fantasy miniature games of our era.

Researching Fantasy Warriors, I have discovered a game that surprises. Nick Lund introduced novel game mechanics. Grenadier Models introduced the concept of the two player starter box with miniatures and the translation of rules to markets outside of the english speaking world. I have to wonder how much Games Workshop’s development of 4th edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles was a reaction to Fantasy Warriors and how much it was an internal company progression. 4th ed WHFB contained 104 miniatures, just above the 102 miniatures of Fantasy Warriors, coincidence or strategy? Why were the High Elves and Goblins in 4th ed WHFB, was the reasoning that Orcs and Dwarves were “taken” or “if we do High Elves and Goblins then all the classic fantasy races will be available in plastic” or didn’t Grenadier’s models matter at all? Similarly, Battle Masters contained 105 miniatures, including cavalry, an ogre and a Empire cannon and crew. Plastic miniatures were not new to GW at the time, but as far as I can tell the concept of a two player started box was.

Some more Dwarves, how about that Brennon?Some more Dwarves, how about that Brennon?

Fantasy Warriors also covers the “classical” fantasy armies, but with some more distinctive units, like large cat riding Amazons, Dwarves flying on bats and Dark Elfs on condors. What it does lack is a specific game setting, with a thoroughly described world and a timeline of major events. Although, the Warrior Newsletter does contain small tidbits of game setting narratives these mostly revolve around the specific scenario. Fantasy Warriors leaves the world setting and narrative up to the player, while still retaining some narrative encouragement in the general scenario design. The absence of different scenarios is also a distinctive feature of the rules, if compared to other games, especially games released after Fantasy Warriors.

Having just scratched the surface of Fantasy Warriors, I realize that I’ll have to come back to writing in more detail about the rules and game mechanics, the range of miniatures and their style, the game supplements, the Warrior Newsletter and the Fantasy Warriors world setting. Since I didn’t even own the game in the early 1990s I have no idea of how popular or unpopular it really was. I’m curious if it had a large base of gamers and hobbyists. Was it ever a contender to become a market leader? Did the almost lack of world setting affect the games popularity? Was it a true front-runner for fantasy miniature wargames or are my conclusions off the mark? Will I eventually get to play a battle with the game?

Fantasy Warriors - The Game, Part 1

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I’ve always taken a keen interest in history from the large sweeping developments all the way down into the details on a micro scale. As my interest in Fantasy Warriors started I did a bit of research into the game from what was available online. Although not a wealth of sources and information, a few nuggets of the game’s history are available. So without further ado, let’s go on a ride through the history of Fantasy Warriors.

Fantasy Warriors was released in 1990 from Grenadier Models. The game was designed by Nick Lund in cooperation with Mark Copplestone and Doug Cowie. In the late eighties and earlier the nineties there were several rules systems available on the fantasy miniature games market. Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy Battles 3rd edition was released in 1987 and the same year Ral Partha released Rules According to Ral: Chaos Wars. In 1989 the 2nd edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Battlesystem came out from TSR, sporting the ability to run your roleplaying character in a miniature wargame. 1990 also saw Fantasy Warlord released from Folio Works with its accompanying magazine Red Giant. Grenadier Models, Ral Partha and Citadel Miniatures were the big three companies producing fantasy miniatures suitable for both roleplaying and miniature games. At the time, no company was as big and dominating as can be seen in the hobby space of today. With Fantasy Warriors Grenadier Models took a new outlook on what a miniature game should be, the two player starter box with miniatures had arrived. It would be until 1992 that something similar was released by Games Workshop with 4th ed Warhammer Fantasy Battles and the Battle Masters game released in cooperation with Milton Bradley.

Fantasy Warriors, a two player starter set is bornFantasy Warriors, a two player starter set is born

The Fantasy Warriors two player boxed starter set came with 102 miniatures, 51 orcs and 51 dwarves with three sculpts of each race. The orcs were a spearman, a swordsman and a bowman with 17 of each. The dwarves had a spearman, a double-handed axe man and a crossbowman with 17 of each too. The miniatures were in plastic and sculpted by Mark Copplestone. Together with the rulebook, quick reference sheet, dice, a ruler and the 150 counters you had everything you needed to run a game straight out of the box. The miniatures were mono-pose, and as far as I can tell, didn’t come on a sprue so you didn’t even have to clip them off. The only obstacle to start gaming on Christmas morning was having to read the rulebook.

The box itself is quite interesting. I really do love the front box art, and I wish I could find a good enough picture of it to have a poster made out of it. Unfortunately my lid is too badly damaged to remake it into a poster. On the back we find what today is standard in miniature games, that is a picture of the content in all its glory. Since, I suspect that Fantasy Warriors was the first miniature game in a boxed set with miniatures in it, the game could be seen as setting the standard for the future, although I guess it was pretty common to show the content of any boxed product on the back of the box. So maybe I’m a bit too much of a fan…

Dwarves in color, notice the use of the shield as a bannerDwarves in color, notice the use of the shield as a banner

But it is really the sides of the bottom part of the box that is ingeniously used. The only color components in the box are the many counters and the ruler (that was a part of the counter sheet). With the rulebook being black and white, it can’t really be used for a painting guide of the miniatures. So Grenadier Models decided to use one each of the long sides of the box as a painting guide for the Dwarves and Orcs respectively. On the side of the box we also get to see miniatures painted differently as inspiration. Especially notice the creative use of shields at the top of the spears to create standard bearers.

The rulebook sports 55 pages, out of which about 43 are rules, so there was still a fair bit of reading before your first battle. Spread throughout the rulebook is a dwarf and an orc that gives the warchief, the player that is, tips on how to play the game. The Fantasy Warriors rules contained some interesting game mechanics that we would see return many years later in other games. These include pre-battle scouting, the use of boasts, a stat defining how the miniature operates in darkness and daylight, a mechanic to establish time of day or night for the battle, an order issuing command system which include the use of messengers, an intimidation phase at the beginning of the turn and the ability of “Blackening the sky” in the shooting phase. In all in several ways an innovative rule set with mechanics supporting a game narrative and leaning more towards friction and simulation than chesslike gaminess.

Spanish edition boxSpanish edition box

The game was released in at least 5 different language versions. The original is the english language version with a Grenadier Models logo on the box that came out in 1990. Due to the agreement between Grenadier Models and swedish Adventure Games a swedish language version was released in 1991 with a box that has the Adventure Games logo. A year later, in 1992, a german language version was released by the german company Welt der Spiele. As far as I can tell the rule book seems to be in german, at least the front cover, but the box has got the Grenadier Models logo. There is also a potentially elusive spanish version. There are pictures of the game box that has the under title, “a game of fantasy battles” and the rule book in spanish on an auction site with a seller from Spain. The game box has the Grenadier Models logo just as the german version, unfortunately the year of release is absent. Since both the swedish and german versions were released in cooperation with local game companies, it seems plausible that the spanish version was too. Whether there at this point was an italian version of the game or not I do not know, but there would be one a little bit later on. 

Fantasy Warriors - The Game, Part 1

Again, the translation of the rule book into at least 4 languages potentially more during the first years of the game also seem to be a front runner among fantasy miniature games. The only other miniature game translated into swedish would be the mini rulebook of the 5th edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles coming out in 1998. The 4th (1992) and 5th (1996) edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battles would see translations into at least german, french and spanish. If you happen to know more about Fantasy Warriors in different language editions, what companies released them, the year of their release and any other potential quirkiness about them I would be very interested to hear about it. Fantasy Warriors just seem to be the game that continues to surprise, and not only in the Before the Battle phase.

How many Orcs are in a horde?

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A growing Orc hordeA growing Orc horde

So the Orc bowmens are done. Seen flanking the spearmen above. Currently the Orc swordmen are on the work bench and coming along fine.

When all Orcs from the starter box are done Im thinking I’ll improve their bases a bit, which right now are pretty plain.

Orc bowmenOrc bowmen
More orc bowmenMore orc bowmen

More Orcs in progress

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Painting finishedPainting finished
Basing bathBasing bath

Orcs in progress

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Another weekend and some hobby getting done. The orc bowmen are coming along fine and the orc swordmen have been undercoated. Painting mono-pose miniatures is something I do like. Wouldn’t say I’m speed painting, but I’m not getting bogged down in details and dervish-swirling like poses. Don’t get me wrong, I do like dynamic miniatures too. But these Fantasy Warriors orcs are a delightful bunch to paint.

Orc bowman in progressOrc bowman in progress

I’m going for an undercoat, a base color, a wash followed by a highlight as main painting techniques. Only exception so far is the orc skin, where I did a second layer of the base coat between the wash and the highlight. I’m hoping that gives the orc skin tone a bit more depth and definition.

I’ve been aiming for a more natural orc skin tone than the more common comic look of bright greens. Not sure how well I’ve succeded. I was trying to picture what orc skin would look like if they were real and lived in mountains, forests and dungeons. But I think my highlight is a bit too bright for an entirely natural look, and I figure they would be more dirty. Still I’m happy with the way they look. I’ll try to do a step-by-step guide when painting the Orc swordmen.

Orcs in progress

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Another weekend and some hobby getting done. The orc bowmen are coming along fine and the orc swordmen have been undercoated. Painting mono-pose miniatures is something I do like. Wouldn’t say I’m speed painting, but I’m not getting bogged down in details and dervish-swirling like poses. Don’t get me wrong, I do like dynamic miniatures too. But these Fantasy Warriors orcs are a delightful bunch to paint.

Orc bowman in progressOrc bowman in progress

I’m going for an undercoat, a base color, a wash followed by a highlight as main painting techniques. Only exception so far is the orc skin, where I did a second layer of the base coat between the wash and the highlight. I’m hoping that gives the orc skin tone a bit more depth and definition.

I’ve been aiming for a more natural orc skin tone than the more common comic look of bright greens. Not sure how well I’ve succeded. I was trying to picture what orc skin would look like if they were real and lived in mountains, forests and dungeons. But I think my highlight is a bit too bright for an entirely natural look, and I figure they would be more dirty. Still I’m happy with the way they look. I’ll try to do a step-by-step guide when painting the Orc swordmen.

Memories of what was

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So, it all started with me seeing an ad in the rpg magazine Sinkadus, or so I thought. I have a memory of an ad in which the front cover of the box is in the middle and is flanked by an orc spearman and a dwarf crossbowman. Therefore, I set out to find the ad in my old Sinkadus magazines. Turns out there is no such ad. There are only two ads that entirely consist of text descriptions of the game before and after its release in Sweden. However, in Sinkadus 32 (Okt 1991) I found a miniature painting article with a dwarf crossbowman in it. This might have been the article that sparked my interest in Fantasy Warriors.

 

1991 Swedish painting article1991 Swedish painting article

On the same page there is an ad for an upcoming miniature release of Mutant 2089 miniatures. This is the only mentioning of these miniatures and nothing would come of them as far as I know. I’ve only been able to identify the guy with a long coat and blue skin. He (3005a) is from the Cyberpunk miniatures range that was licensed to R. Talsorian Games and their Cyberpunk 2020. From the description of the upcoming miniatures, including guitar wielding and suitcase carrying characters, I suspect that the Future Warriors range might also have been a potential source. The agreement between Grenadier and Adventure Games ended some time later. In Sinkadus 35 (April 1992) it was announced that Heartbreaker was the new miniature supplier for Adventure Games and Mutant Chronicles was slowly rising on the horizon. Adventure Games would also change to Target Games.

Mysterious Cyberpunk miniaturesMysterious Cyberpunk miniatures

The painting article of Fantasy Warriors is a basic description of batch painting tips. Paint 5-10 models at a time, focus on contrasting colors, don’t mind details like eyes (unless painting red orc eyes) and varnish the miniature to avoid paint chipping off. The probably weirdest tip is (my translation): “If you don’t have the energy to put grass on all the bases then you can paint them green or black instead. Black contrasts very good against the miniature”. I think I’ll just stick to my grass basing.

Inspiration wise for my dwarves there is not much to go on, except a light brown and the red lining along the chainmail. I wasn’t imagining my dwarves to have red as a main color. However, I do want the presentation of Fantasy Warriors in Sinkadus to somehow influence my hobby project. Enter my narrative from Dragons and Demons world of Ereb Altor.

 

The Aidne PeninsulaThe Aidne Peninsula

The dwarves of Ereb Altor can be found all over the continent of Ereb. They have a major settlement in the eastern Aidne mountains which is from where my army will come. The largest dwarven holds can be found in the Grynner mountains that lie further to the east. Due to the increase of orcish raids the Aidne mountain dwarves have hired a company of crossbowmen, the Iron Bolts, from the Grynner mountains and the dwarven kingdom of Tarat-Khon. The Iron Bolts are renowned all around the Copper Sea for their accuracy and sturdiness in the face of the enemy, made famous after the siege of Bedorum in Hynsolge. The chainmail of the Iron Bolts is lined red signifying the blood of their felled foes.

 

Since I have more than the 17 crossbowmen dwarves of the Fantasy Warriors box, I will make an extra unit that will be the Iron Bolts. They will be painted as close to the painting article in Sinkadus as a homage to the inspiration that started this project. However, they won’t have black bases.

 

Orc Spearmen

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As Easter is ending the first unit of Orc Spearmen are done. There are 16 of them, although the original Fantasy Warriors came with 17. However, I’ll be complementing them with unit command figures and the missing 17th Orc later.

Orc Spearmen assambledOrc Spearmen assambled

The Orcs are standing in front of the very first scratch built buildings I did in the early 90s. The yellow cottage is modeled after a house in a White Dwarf if memory serves. The barn I did on inspiration.

Speaking of memory, I’ve tried to find the ad I saw for Fantasy Warriors. I found articles about the game but none that look like what I remember. But, more on that later. I’m thinking I’ll also dive a bit into some history of the Fantasy Warriors game too. So I’ll aim to make a project  a bit wider than just painting old minis.

The mini haul and some Orcs

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After mustering the minis that I got in the Fantasy Warriors box, there are a few missing to reach the 102 announced on the box cover. But no worries, since I had this project in mind even before aquiring the Fantasy Warriors box I had already ordered 1 bag each of the EM4 plastic orcs and dwarfs. These are the original Copplestone orcs from Grenadier.

Orc spearmen coming alongOrc spearmen coming along

With an early jumpstart of the project, I already have 16 Orc spearmen that just need some basing before being done. Im pretty happy with them, and I think the color scheme will work fine for the Orc army. It also matches my old GW 4th ed plastic goblin spearmen and archers.

The mini haul and some Orcs

Most of the models I aquired were unpainted, although a few are now taking a bath in T-red the swedish solution to old paint removal. There are a few broken spears and other bits so Im thinking I’ll convert those models to be standard bearers and warmachine crews.

DwarfsDwarfs

Most of the dwarves were in a better state. Still a few missing to make the original 51 dwarves. They will be getting reinforcements from the purchase mentioned above. Have to start thinking about a color scheme for them. In an old Sinkadus (old swedish rpg magazine) there is a paint tutorial featuring a Fantasy Warriors dwarf crossbow man. Thinking I’ll have that as inspiration.

It all started with these

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With my first copy of the rpg Dragons and Demons, THE swedish fantasy rpg in the 80s and 90s, I got paper standees and two gridded gameboards. In 1990-91 Äventyrsspel started selling Grenadier’s fantasy miniatures at a pace of releasing 48 new miniatures about every 3 months. I was hooked, but my pocket money limited the amount I could afford. The grenadier miniatures were my first fantasy miniatures.

Some of my first Grenadier miniaturesSome of my first Grenadier miniatures

This project is a mix of my very first fantasy miniatures and newly acquired old Grenadier fantasy miniatures and new miniatures of the old sculpts (from Em4, Forlorn Hope and Mirliton). It is also return to the swedish rpg-world of Ereb Altor which is the setting where I imagine my armies. The Orc armies control by the Witchmaster of the Black Tower and the Dwarfs from a Dwarven Hold in the Aidne Mountains.

A knight from ZorakinA knight from Zorakin

Just south of the Aidne Mountains lies Zorakin, a land of knights and chivalry. I have started painting on one of my first knights. He will most probably be from one of the knightly orders protecting Zorakin from the orcs in the Aidne Mountains and in the forest that dominates one of the country’s two peninsulas.

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